Lycopene plant pigment, molecular model. Atoms are represented as spheres and are colour-coded; carbon (red) and hydrogen (orange). Lycopene is a carotenoid pigment found in a number of red fruits and vegetables, including tomatoes, red berries, watermelon and rose hips. It is one of the most powerful carotenoid antioxidants and may provide protection against ultraviolet (UV) skin damage, cardiovascular disease and some cancers. Unlike other nutritional compounds, the amount of lycopene the body is able to absorb (its bioavailability) increases with processing and cooking. Therefore, products such as tomato ketchup and tomato puree have a high concentration of available lycopene.
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